June 10th, 2008
12:53 PM ET
15 years ago

McCain pushes for town hall debates


Watch McCain's comments Tuesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - John McCain continued his push for regular town hall-style debates with rival Barack Obama, raising the challenge again Tuesday as his campaign calls for as many as 10 face-offs this summer.

“As you know it has begun in earnest as you may have heard, Senator Obama and I might well be meeting soon in a series of town hall discussions,” McCain told business leaders gathered in the nation’s capital for the National Small Business Summit.

“Just the two of us, in direct conversation with voters. No need to turn it into a big media-run production with process questions from reporters, a spin room, and all the rest of it. Just to keep things friendly, I also suggested that my opponent and I travel to these town hall meetings together in the same plane. I promise not to try and fly it,” joked the Arizona senator. McCain, a naval aviator during the Vietnam War, was shot down and held captive for years.

“…We need the town hall meeting,” he added. “Let’s stop yelling at each other and let’s stop having sound bites and process questions and those things. The American people want a respectful and civilized discussion.”

The presumptive GOP presidential nominee is proposing ten town hall meetings - one each week between now and the Democratic Convention in late August. McCain proposes having a few hundred people at each, chosen by a non-partisan organization.

Shortly after McCain issued his latest challenge, Obama said he was on board – but that his involvement might fall short of the weekly meetings McCain has suggested.

“It's not realistic probably to do 10, given all the campaigning that I have to do since we just finished our primary season,” the Illinois senator told reporters in St. Louis, Missouri. “So it will probably be somewhat fewer than 10, but more than the 3 that have already been agreed to, and we’ll probably propose a mix of formats.”

The three that Obama referred to are the three debates this autumn announced by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (228 Responses)
  1. Blork

    I don't have a yacht. But i also don't hate those who do. It's so paradoxical; the more liberal posts I read, the more hate I see. Obama says that we should not hate; that all we really have to hate is hate itself. Yet, it seems that Obama's supporters are a hateful, vitriolic, ageist bunch who hate everyone who has more than them, who is successful, who is profitable, etc. I've been insurance-less, jobless, and almost homeless. I support my family of five on one income - barely. We drive old Fords and live in a tiny house, the mortgage for which is some 50% of my income. Yet, I do not hate.

    Why do Obama supporters hate so much?

    June 10, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  2. Elaine

    The fact of the matter is, McCain is pushing for the town hall meetings, not only because he's broke, but because he can never hope to draw the crowds that Obama does. I personally think it's a good idea for them to do this regardless of McCain's reasons.

    June 10, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  3. MD

    Ahhhh... How sad it will be when McCane won't be able to tell the difference between what made his wife rich (beer, DUH) and bills he is already dreaming about vetoing.

    His desire to veto bills shows he is an egomanic. Why would you even make that threat now, if you keep saying that you want to work with everyone?

    McCane is a simple man at heart. He keeps showing his true face, five minutes after he shows the face his campaign staff tell him to show.

    McCane is no match for Obama.

    June 10, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  4. matt guerra

    He wants to veto every beer bill cos his wife is the distributor of beer and by vetoing any beer bills that limit its distribution he will definitely make the millions. Just this time its not Oil (bush) its beer (Mccain)

    June 10, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  5. ted


    Your right.. McCain is better lookin too !

    June 10, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  6. Brandon Hillary Democrat for Mc Cain

    He declined several of Hillary's offers in various states Is he really going to decline the call of debates in a general election. Mc Cain would trounce him in a debate- Look how well he did in debates when he followed Hillarys lead he didnt even know the name of the future president of Russia and yes we all remember the pennsylvania debate. Get over obamatons you have an idol not a president.

    Mc Cain/ Palin 2008.

    June 10, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  7. Accountant Guy

    I hope he gets what he wants, because Obama will crush him on every issue!!

    Obama '08

    June 10, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  8. ron canada

    the last time Clinton asked obama for a debate he said he didn't have time as it took a couple of weeks to prepare for it and he was busy campaigning . McCain is asking for an open debate with no preset questions he can study on just honest answers as to what he not the people who control him will do on a specific topic of the asker's choice we all seen what happened in the ABC debate when his answers were questioned he fell apart and would not grant an interview for ten days let alone accept an offer to debate so if i was mccain i wouldn't hold my breath waiting for an answer

    June 10, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  9. Amy

    No one is interested in John McCain's town hall meetings.

    Also, what is the purpose of a gas tax holiday, if you have no money to buy gas.

    Can he come up with something better. Oh, don't mention rebate; if you owe IRS, you want see a dime (penalize the working people that owe a few dollars in taxes).

    June 10, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  10. Obama 08/12

    40 Years ago or even today the Nixon /Kennedy debates make for LOL 's so be ready for LOL's this will be happening all over again !!!

    This round will be Obams /McCain more like a Kennedy /McShame with Old Timers !!!!

    Can't wait just thinking of it want to laugh.

    June 10, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  11. RuthieM

    Why is McCain pushing so hard and loud for these town hall debates? Is it because he wants Obama's crowd-drawing brilliance or is it because McCain wants the world to see they are twins as McCain stands before his new slogan he took from Obama, 'A leader we can believe in' next to Obama's 'Chane we can believe in' with McCain's stolen Obama background colors. Sure, have the town halls, show America the 'true' leader, Barack Obama!

    June 10, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  12. LB

    I would love to hear one of these meetings. McCain can only read a speech and not very well at that either (beer or bill). McCain has a bad temper when pressed. I can see McCain now screaming vulgar words at Obama in some townhall meeting held in the church basement.

    June 10, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  13. GE

    A civil discusion / debate on the major issues between Obama and McCain is just what we need. Let's hope they can pull it off. I don't see why Obama's staff is putting this off – no good reason for it. Obama will do just fine. Now that we have another Barry and John running, it's time to do this right and set a precedent for future elections.

    June 10, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  14. Still for Hill

    I think you Obamabots severely underestimate John McCain. However, who knows if we will find out b/c Obama is a coward and won't debate. Actually, I think he is actually to timid to even go into a small town and ask for a vote. He has pissed too many people off.

    I also think that it is disgusting that it is disgusting how this network is so biased. It's not an issue if Obama says his uncle freed the Jews or if there are 57 states. However, CNN keeps posting stories about John McCain every time he misspeaks. I wonder how many times a day the reporters on this station misspeak? I wonder how many of them are being labeled senile?

    I only watch Lou Dobbs on this channel now... Sorry, Anderson, got a little sick of you and your "Boo", the so called "uncommitted" superdelegate Donna Brazille.

    Oh, and tell Navarette, Latinos won't vote for Obama either. I think they are all sick of the blacks whining about Latinos taking their jobs.

    Black people need to face the facts. Life is hard for everyone...

    June 10, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  15. Louis

    The PAST and the FUTURE side by side–a no-brainer.

    June 10, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  16. Jay Ramos in NYC

    For all you Obama groupies, do any of you ever look or read beyond his nice speeches or rethoric?

    His economic plans call for raising income taxes, raising corporate taxes, and raising capital gains taxes, while at the same time extending unemployment benefits, so if you work hard, and make more money, you pay higher taxes, if you use your money to invest in the economy by buying stocks or sell your home, you pay more taxes, and if you want to open your own business, you pay more taxes.

    But at the same time, if you sit at home and don't work, you will get extended benefits. Guess where the money for that will come from, the pocket of the person working hard and paying extra taxes.

    is this what we want for our country? Really?

    June 10, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  17. realist

    Enough of Obama's rhetoric. He might be good whipping up a crowd - but let's see what kind of substance he's got in a conversation on the issues. Not much I bet.

    June 10, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  18. Mike

    Hey John, I did not know that you are the great debater or is Joe going to be with you to interpret what Barack is saying.

    June 10, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  19. MLG

    Go McCain 08. Open up our drilling here in U.S. Obama wants them to pay and yes it WILL trickle down to the PEOPLE!!!!! If Obama gets in I will be paying $20.00a gallon for gas. Are people dumb thinking that what he wants to do will work. MCCAIN/HUCKABEE 08

    June 10, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  20. Fly Boy

    I thought McCain said he was wiser than Obama?

    Not very wise for the ONLY two presidential candidates to travel in the same plane. Flying is SAFE, but not that safe.

    June 10, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  21. Obama 08/12

    Read "Caption Smash " ( THIS

    IS THE MUST READ BLOG .) Located 12 down from top of this blog.

    June 10, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  22. Mar


    June 10, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  23. M.A.D.D

    I think Im voting for McCain.
    Did he say he was vetoing a beer bill or Bill's beer?

    I feel thirsty.

    June 10, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  24. Minnesota Nice

    McCain wouldn't even have a townhall debate with Ron Paul.

    June 10, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  25. Mike

    Hey Billy from FL, Who is the nominee??? Hillary or Obama
    Even after the 3 on 1 ABC debate fiasco that the Clintons called in as a favor.
    OBAMA '08 '12

    June 10, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
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